In recent weeks, as the 2022 election cycle has wrapped and state government officials look toward 2023, improving public education in Alabama has been named by Gov. Kay Ivey and House Speaker-designate Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) as a top priority.

During an appearance on this week's broadcast of Alabama Public Television's "Capitol Journal," Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth offered his suggestions for education policy.

At the top of the list, he said school choice. He also included teacher pay and tamping down on student hunger.

"I think first – I think you hear a lot of chatter, and something I'm certainly supportive of, school choice," he said. "Why does that matter, right? I mean, you've got students that have been in historically failing schools. Look at Montgomery – right here, the state's capital. You've got a lot of failing schools. Those students are trapped, so give them an opportunity to go to a private school – wow, that could be a lifeline for those students. We need to potentially look at charter schools in some areas. That historically has worked in a lot of places. But it boils down to having competition and when you do that and also giving parents choice which is the best option to send their child. I think if we can do that, it's not going to be the only solution, but I think it's going to be 10-20% solving the problem in Alabama."

"We've got to continue to encourage people to go into education," Ainsworth continued. "Having better pay to continue to attract more teachers is something we've really got to look at."

"I think another interesting thing that I haven't heard anybody talk about really for the most part, but I found this out in some surveys I was looking at is that a lot of our students, especially in our poorer counties – the number-one issue these students face and this comes from surveys that were taken, is they're hungry, right?" he added. "And so they go home hungry. I really think we've got to address the situation to make sure these students have proper nutrition because if they're struggling there, they're certainly going to struggle in school."

Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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